October - 2012

Back in the 70's and 80's, I used to go to every PGA tour event that was within driving distance-the L.A. Open at Riviera, the Bob Hope in Palm Springs, San Diego Torry Pines, The Tournament of Champions at La Costa, and every LPGA tournament (which were few and far between at that time) that I could.

It was fun to see in person all the biggest names-Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Greg Norman. But one person that sticks out to me the most was the late Seve Ballesteros. I was fortunate to be able to see Seve play eighteen holes three different times he played at Torrey Pines. He played very little in the U.S. back then due to a long evolving disagreement with the head of the PGA Tour Deane Beman.

Looking back, this was pre-Tiger Woods hysteria-you could go from tee to green following whomever you liked. You could actually get right next to the players on the tee, looking at their clubs, what they were using, how they made their decisions. TV now gets you close, but doesn't show the details.

The reason Seve was so much fun to follow was because he didn't hold his emotion's in very much, which made for an ardent golf fan, a truly entertaining day.

Seve was especially fun to study on par three's because he watched so closely the other player's caddies on the tee. He'd move closer, slyly noticing what club was pulled out of the other player's bag, and start speaking to his brother (who was his caddie at the time) in Spanish I never understood. Unlike some players, he paid attention to everything around him.

I mention this because we all seem to do some form of this on par three's-"Hey, was that a seven or a six?" Oops… don't we do this all the time? It seems to have become a regular part of golf nowadays, but tournament golf's a whole different story.

It's really simple, you're not allowed to ask "what club did you hit?" You can look in another player's bag all you want (Decision 8-1/10), that's legal, but at the same time if you reach over and move a towel to sneak a peek- not legal. (Decision 8-1/11).

Rule 8 Advice; Indicating Line Of Play

8-1. Advice
During a stipulated round, a player must not:

a. give advice to anyone in the competition playing on the course other than his partner, or

b. ask for advice from anyone other than his partner or either of their caddies.

Here's the Decisions-

Looking into Another Player's Bag to Determine Club Used

Q.A looks into B's bag to determine which club B used for his last stroke. Is this the equivalent of asking for advice?

A.No. Information obtained by observation is not advice. But see also Decision 8-1/11.


Removing Towel Covering Another Player's Clubs to Determine Club Used

Q.Decision 8-1/10 states that it is not a breach of Rule 8-1 for A to look into B's golf bag to determine which club B used for his last stroke. Suppose a towel was covering B's clubs and A removed the towel in order to determine which club B had used, would that be a breach of Rule 8-1?

A.Yes. A player is prohibited from obtaining such information through a physical act.

Derek Duesler